Maize Lethal Necrosis disease: review of molecular and genetic resistance mechanisms, socio-economic impacts, and mitigation strategies in sub-Saharan Africa

Abstract

Maize lethal necrosis (MLN) disease is a significant constraint for maize producers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The disease decimates the maize crop, in some cases, causing total crop failure with far-reaching impacts on regional food security. In this review, we analyze the impacts of MLN in Africa, finding that resource-poor farmers and consumers are the most vulnerable populations. We examine the molecular mechanism of MLN virus transmission, role of vectors and host plant resistance identifying a range of potential opportunities for genetic and phytosanitary interventions to control MLN. We discuss the likely exacerbating effects of climate change on the MLN menace and describe a sobering example of negative genetic association between tolerance to heat/drought and susceptibility to viral infection. We also review role of microRNAs in host plant response to MLN causing viruses as well as heat/drought stress that can be carefully engineered to develop resistant varieties using novel molecular techniques.

Description

Keywords

Maize, Potyvirus, Drought stress, Gene editing

Citation

Biswal, A.K., Alakonya, A.E., Mottaleb, K.A. et al. Maize Lethal Necrosis disease: review of molecular and genetic resistance mechanisms, socio-economic impacts, and mitigation strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. BMC Plant Biol 22, 542 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-022-03932-y